The End of J.A.’s Rule

Nick Pollack reviews every single starting pitcher's performances from Monday's games.

Let me tell you a story. Entering 2018, we didn’t really love J. A. Happ. He was fine – a Toby through and through – until he began elevating heaters up in the zone and entered May with a startling 30% strikeout rate that sat within the Top 10 of all starters in the bigs. It elevated his stock massively as this decent ratio arm could suddenly fill the void of his production and forced me to heavily pursue him through the year. I have to admit, these strikeouts seem to have been glitter as I’ve struggled to remove this perception of Happ through the year and after last night’s 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks disaster against the Orioles, I was able to take the best cold shower of my life. THE GLITTER IS GONE. He’s failing to elevate effectively, not earning close to the same whiffs and suddenly he’s just a standard Toby again. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a flat out drop, but the notion of him being a sturdy Top 40/50 arm the rest of the way has been swallowed by the drain. I feel guilty that it took me until this day to get there, but here we are now. We move on.

Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:

Ryan Burr2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. This wasn’t even an opener situation, this was a flat out bullpen game. And despite the name, Burr surprisingly handed the loss in this duel.

Taylor Cole1.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. Cole opened for False Starter Felix Pena 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – and I’m fine with that outing if you’re at the point of needing Pena in your lineups. No cheap Win here as Odorizzi was dope, but those ratios help. I’m indifferent about owning Pena and believe in the heavy majority of cases you’re better off chasing something that can turn into legit production, but for those that don’t have that option, you could do worse.

Jake Odorizzi5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. The heaters are still up and it was good to see his deuce stealing strikes (11/16) through the game. Great to see this rebound against the same team that disrupted his run last week as that’s 0 ER in four of his last five games. Keep on keepin’ on as he gets the ChiSox next.

Brad Peacock5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Peacock was handed a fortunate matchup against the White Sox and was able to earn 9 strikeouts despite a mediocre 27% CSW. There were some filthy sliders in there, but overall I’m wondering if this can last. Meanwhile, he continues his feet warming tour as he faces the Red Sox next and I’d steer clear. I think he’s too close to the fire and could burn us all.

David Price5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Price wasn’t labeled as Still ILL for this one, though I understand owners leaving him on the IL for safety. Y’all should have no inhibitions letting him fly now.

Brett Anderson5.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. I didn’t like any of the streaming options and somehow fell into this HAISTFMWT?! from Anderson. I ain’t complaining. Streaming Record: 31-19. Please don’t trust this to repeat. Please.

Jake Arrieta6.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Arrieta is a frustrating Toby to endure as it’s filled with Dusty Donuts and disappointment. You’re welcome for the validation you’ve been searching for all year, I feel you.

Chris Paddack6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Well ain’t that just lovely, Paddack. Seriously, it’s the Blake Snell Blueprint in effect as Paddack’s heater is just too good. Like Soroka, there is regression coming here, but the dude is a stud for as many innings he gets. If he were slated for 180+, I’d likely have him Top 15. Early 2020 ranking? You bet.

Mike Soroka8.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. It’s wild how he keeps lowering his BABIP and raising his LOB rate with each start (now .203 and 87%!), and even raised his HR/9 in this one to 0.20 as he allowed his first longball of the year. But it’s such a weird state of affairs. Those that have been reading the roundup since last year know that I was in love with Soroka when he first came up. My Top 50 ranking of him in October was a product of him getting these innings…and then I get terrified by his shoulder injury. It’s surreal to see him now on the hill set to cross 50 frames under his belt before May ends, yet here I am trying to preach caution with his clear regression coming – 3.88 SIERA to match that 1.01 ERA. Yet I still love him. He should outperform that SIERA and a 3.00 ERA doesn’t seem unrealistic to me. It’s just how much strikeout production will we get (that slider looked improved last night though!) + how many frames when all is said and done? I think you guys understand where I’m coming from here and it’s why I didn’t elevate him this week…while keeping him in the same tier as Luis CastilloI’m super infatuated like the rest of you, I’m just trying to keep everyone’s head level here. We cool?

Wilmer Font4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Ah yes, it’s Wilmer, the Comic Sans of Fonts. The Mets couldn’t even decide who was supposed to start this one, eventually throwing flower petals in the air to help them out. It didn’t, so they asked Wilmer.

Mike Minor6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks. Here I was, nervous about Minor’s last two starts only for him to go ridiculous once again for 19 whiffs (Gallows Pole!) and 35% CSW. What’s surprising here is that his changeup was far from the dope offering this time out – 5/25 CSW! – as his slider stepped up to kill it via 15/29 CSW and 22/29 strikes. Hot dang! His changeup really was hung up in the zone a ton while that slider was used as both a striker getting and whiff generator. We really haven’t seen the latter much this year so it does make me more intrigued than I have been all season for Minor. Consider him Top 50 again!

Luke Weaver6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. If you’re not falling for Weaver, I’m not sure what else you want from him. A better CSW. That’s…a really good point. Just 26% here as he earned just six whiffs on the evening, failing to nail down his changeup across the game. Okay, scratch out that first line. Weaver’s line is a lot better than how he pitched, but he still had cutters for strikes (10/15) and fastballs up returned production against the highest K rate lineup in the bigs. I’m still super in.

Carlos Carrasco5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Carrasco looked a bit off in this one and the bottom line hurts, though I wouldn’t be concerned moving forward. It’s not a detrimental start on a Monday, we can collectively be upset and move on.

Andrew Cashner6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. A PQS? Sure, whatever Cashner.

Yu Darvish6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. This was another cutter heavy start from Darvish and it’s clearly working, even if it was a PQS. He’s still missing the ability to spot heaters, but 35/95 CSW is a wonderful thing. Keep starting Darvish as I think he gets better from here, not worse.

Andrew Suarez6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. A PQS from Suarez is as good as you can hope for, which is as bad as it sounds.

Patrick Corbin5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Ummmmm, why. The Mets just got swept by the Marlins, yet Corbin gets slapped around by their bats for terrible ratios. Yes, the elites still give you strikeout production to salvage, but come on man, this was supposed to be a lock! 17 whiffs is great, but just 8 called strikes as the Mets attacked and attacked. Things will be better.

Edwin Jackson5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. EJax is back! And doing EJax things! Why am I excited!

Mike Leake5.0 IP, 7 ER, 11 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. It’s almost like Leake is prone to allowing runs. A 2.14 HR/9 isn’t bad or anything, is it?


Today’s Streamer


For those unaware, I’m forced to make my Streamer picks under the condition of sub 20% owned in Fantasy Pros’ consolidated ownership rates.


Michael Pineda vs. Los Angeles Angels – His slider has looked better lately and I’ll chase that strikeout upside among the other blegh options.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jose Urena vs. Detroit Tigers – Why are y’all picking up all the good pitchers. On the real, there are no good options and I’ll go with Urena who has the ability to cruise six frames on 1 ER every so often, especially against a bad offense like the Tigers.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Trevor Richards vs. Detroit Tigers – Few options here and I’ll go for the strikeout upside inside Richards’ changeup against the weak Tigers. It’s a rocky week of streams.


Game of the Day


Caleb Smith vs. Spencer Turnbull – Two young arms with sub 2.50 ERAs dueling it out? Yes please.


(Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

14 responses to “The End of J.A.’s Rule”

  1. Swfcdan says:

    Unanswered comment from yesterday:

    Thor’s problem seems soley on his slider like you’ve said. Used to be his money out pitch, now he’s throwing it much less, reason? The velo has dropped almost 4mph from 92 to 88.5 (per FG)! Seems like slower velo isn’t fooling em as much. Does that mean its mechanical and should be fixed soon or not?

    If you were offered Montas ($3) for Thor ($26) would you consider it? Montas is looking like a clear keeper at that price whereas Thor isn’t. If you think Montas is totally legit wouldn’t you do it? Might have a slightly lesser pitcher this year but a great keeper after.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      The answer given this far about the worse slider is his feel with the ball. That would make sense as it’s not gliding off correctly —> thinking too much about movement —> not throwing it like a fastball as he has prior.

      I wonder if this is something to tweak and can change or not. We’ll see!

      That Montas/Thor trade seems fair, though I’d focus more on this year and keep Thor. Montas is doing well now, but he seems to be more fragile than other risers on The List. Much bigger chance he’s irrelevant next year than guys like Boyd, Musgrove, Caleb, etc.

      Hope that helps!

      • Dan Venables says:

        Boyd has one great pitch (slider), same for Musgrove (curve/slider thing). Isn’t Montas arsenal better than theirs? Certainly throws faster and has 2 effective offspeeds in his slider and splitter now.

  2. Shoey says:

    Nick I scooped C. Smith earlier and hes been by pitcher but in my 10 team points league but i got offered Fried and Musgrove. I know the rankings are for categories but is this a no brainier for me?

    Thanks as always

    • Nick Pollack says:

      In a 10-teamer, it’s less about depth and more about top level talent.

      I’m leaning hold Caleb unless you need the depth.

  3. bossmanjunior333 says:

    Darvish was beautiful thru 5 IP, only 68P, 1BB, 7K, 0ER, but then just fell apart in the 6th. I was definitely encouraged regardless.

  4. AH says:

    Yes, regression is coming. Sooner or later someone’s gonna tee off a sinker when he’s walked a couple. But it’s worth pointing out that start actually lowered his SIERA by about 0.3 and his xFIP by nearly a full run.

    He’s been lucky during this spell, but he can also improve going forward and just bank the luck.

  5. Francis C says:

    Soroka obviously won’t maintain a .203 BABIP but he is proving to be skilled at inducing the kind of contact that could lend itself to a lower than average BABIP. Per Baseball Savant, his barrel percentage is only 3%, which is top 8% of the league. His average exit velocity allowed of 84.5 MPH is top 6% of the league. His average launch angle allowed is 0.5! He doesn’t give up many homeruns, maybe because he keeps it on the ground? And he limits hard contact? He also has an expected batting average allowed of .224.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I think I’m baking in some of this in saying I don’t expect his 3.88 SIERA to come to life. He’s a 3.00 ERA guy at heart. And that’s great! I want to make sure it’s understood that I’m on the Soroka train regarding his skill set. None of those statcast marks shock me.

      We have to keep all of our excitement in perspective, still.

      • Andrew says:

        Is there an innings limit here, or should he be good for fantasy playoff time? i.e sell high in non-keeper? Thanks

  6. theKraken says:

    Is this the perfect time to sell Soroka in a redraft? That inning cap will begin to rear its head sooner than later and the stats are looking pretty magical at the moment.

  7. Frankie says:

    Whoever thought that you would be taking MARLINS pitchers to pick on another team. Love it.

  8. John Knee says:

    So with Heaney and his elbow issues (kinda worrisome) coming back would you just drop him, or Minor, or Mahle in a QS

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